Akusala dhammas are
altogether different from kusala dhammas. Akusala dhammas are impure,
they are dangerous and they lead to sorrow. As we have seen, there are
four akusala cetasikas which arise with every akusala citta: moha (ignorance),
ahirika (shamelessness), anottappa (recklessness) and uddhacca (restlessness).
Apart from these four akusala cetasikas there. are several other akusala
cetasikas which can accompany akusala citta.
Lobha, attachment or greed, is another akusala cetasika. Lobha does not
arise with every akusala citta, it can arise only with eight types of citta,
the eight types of lobha-mula-citta (1 See my AbhIdhamma in Daily Life,
Chapter IV.) Lobha is a "root", hetu. The lobha-mula-cittas have both moha
and lobha as their roots.
The Dhammasangani (1059), in the section where it deals with lobha
as hetu, gives a long list of different names for lobha in order to illustrate
its different shades and aspects. Lobha is compared to a creeper, it strangles
its victim such as a creeper strangles a tree. It is like the ocean, it
is insatiable. Lobha can be coarse or it can be more subtle such as hoping
or expecting. It is a "bondage" because it binds beings in the round of
births. It is a depravity because it corrupts the mind (2 See the Atthasalini
II, Book II, Chapter II, 362.367.).
The Visuddhimagga (XIV, 162) gives the following definition of lobha:
the characteristic of grasping an object like "monkey lime". Its function
is sticking, like meat put in a hot pan. It is manifested as not giving
up, like the dye of lamp-black. In proximate cause is seeing enjoyment
in things that lead to bondage. Swelling with the current of craving, it
should be regarded as taking (beings) with it to states of loss, as a swift-flowing
river does to the great ocean.
(II, Part IX, Chapter I, 249) gives a similar definition (1 See also Dhammasangani
Greed has the characteristic of grasping like monkey lime. Monkey lime
was used by hunters in order to catch monkeys. We read in the Kindred
Sayings (V, Maha-vagga, Book III, Chapter I, 7, The monkey) that a
hunter sets a trap of lime for monkeys. Monkeys who are free from "folly
and greed" do not get trapped. We read:
But a greedy, foolish monkey comes up to the pitch and handles it with
one paw, and his paw sticks fast in it. Then, thinking: I'll free my paw,
he seizes it with the other paw, but that too sticks fast. To free both
paws he seizes them with one foot,. and that too sticks fast. To free both
paws and the one foot, he lays hold of them with the other foot, but that
too sticks fast. To flee both paws and both feet he lays hold of them with
his muzzle: but that too sticks fast.
In this way the hunter
can catch him and roast him over the fire. The Buddha explained to the
monks that the monk who is not mindful gets trapped by the "five sensual
elements ": visible object, sound, scent, savour and tangible object. When
one is taken in by these objects, "Mara gets access" (2 Mara is that which
is evil, akusala, and a wider sense: everything which is bound up with
dukkha.). Clinging is dangerous, it leads to one's own destruction. Are
we at this moment taken in by one of the "five sensual elements"? Then
we are in fact "trapped". At the moment of lobha we enjoy the object of
clinging and we do not see that lobha makes us enslaved, we do not see
the danger of lobha. Therefore it is said that the proximate cause of lobha
is seeing enjoyment in things that lead to bondage. Growing into a river
of craving, lobha takes us to the "states of loss". Lobha can motivate
unwholesome deeds which are capable of producing an unhappy rebirth. So
long as lobha has not been eradicated we are subject to birth, old age,
sickness and death.
So that monkey thus trapped in five ways lies down and howls, thus fallen
Lobha is attached to many different kinds of objects and it has many degrees.
Different names can denote the cetasika which is lobha, Raga (greed), abhijja
(covetousness) and tanha (craving) are other names for lobha, when lobha
is coarse it motivates akusala kamma patha (unwholesome course of action)
through body, speech or mind. Because of lobha one may commit many kinds
of bad deeds in order to obtain what one desires. If the degree of akusala
is such that it motivates an evil deed, the result of it may be an unhappy
rebirth or unpleasant experiences through the senses in the course of life.
Lobha can motivate akusala kamma pathas through the body, which are stealing
and sexual misbehaviour, and akusala kamma pathas through speech which
is lying, slandering and idle talk. Lobha can motivate covetousness or
abhijja, the desire to take away someone else's property, which
is akusala kamma patha through the mind. Moreover, when it is accompanied
by ditthi, it can motivate certain kinds of wrong view which are akusala
kamma patha through the mind (1 Certain kinds of wrong view, not every
kind, are akusala kamma patha through the mind. I shall deal with these
in Chapter 16.). as regards covetousness, the Atthasalini (II, Part IX,
Chapter I, 249) states that it should be regarded as the outstretched hand
of the mind (reaching) for others' prosperity, if one merely wishes to
have someone else's property but does not plan to take it away; greed is
not akusala kamma patha. There are many degrees of greed and only when
one really plans to take away someone else's property it is akusala kamma
patha through the mind (2 Atthasalini I. Part III, Chapter V, 101.).
We may not have the intention to steal, but our wish to obtain; something
for ourselves can condition behaviour and speech which is not sincere.
The Book of Analysis (Vibhanga, Chapter 17, 851) speaks about people who
have "evil wishes", that is, who pretend to have qualities they do not
possess; they may pretend to be virtuous, wise and even without defilements.
The monk may behave in a hypocritical way in order to obtain requisites.
The Vibhanga (861, 862) gives us striking examples of "guile" and "insinuating
is "guile"? In one who depends on gain, honour and fame, who has evil wishes,
who is troubled by wishes: by the so called using of the requisites, by
talking allusively, by the setting up or by the arranging or by the proper
arranging of the posture: there is knitting the brows, act of knitting
the brows, guile, being guileful, state of being guileful. This is called
"Beansoupery" is talk
of which only a little is true, the rest being false, just as in beansoup,
only a few beans do not get cooked, and the greater part gets cooked (1
Visuddhimagga I, 75.).
Therein, what is "insinuating talk"? In one who depends on gain, honour
and fame, who has evil wishes, who is troubled by wishes: that which to
others is welcoming talk insinuating talk entertaining talk. Laudatory
talk flattering talk inferential talk repeated inferential talk coaxing
talk repeated coaxing talk constant pleasant talk servility (in talking),
beansoupery (in talking), dandling (behaviour). This is called insinuating
These passages are also excellent reminders for laypeople: one may have
lovely manners but in reality one may be full of hypocrisy and pretence.
Pleasant speech can easily have selfish motives. Don't we want to be popular,
to be liked by others? In order to endear ourselves to others we may even
tell lies or slander. When there is mindfuIness of the present reality
we can find out whether our nice way of speaking is in reality flattering
and coaxing talk or not. Through mindfulness we can become more sincere
in our behaviour.
There is lobha, not only when we want to obtain things, but also when we
enjoy pleasant sights, sounds, smells, flavours, tangible objects and mental
objects. Don't we like softness while we are sitting or lying down? When
we sit on a hard floor we have aversion, and when we sit in a comfortable
chair we find it agreeable and then there is lobha. Are we not attached
to temperature, to the temperature which is just right for us: not too
hot, not too cold? When we drink coffee or tea we want it to be of the
temperature we like. When eating and drinking we are attached not only
to flavour, but also to temperature. And don't we like the smell of our
food, the sight of it and the softness or hardness of it? There is bound
to be attachment through each of the six doors, time and again.
Lobha may be accompanied by pleasant feeling or by indifferent feeling.
When it is accompanied by pleasant feeling there is enthusiasm (piti) as
well. When there is pleasant feeling we are delighted with it and then
pleasant feeling becomes another object of attachment. When there is attachment
there is also ignorance, shamelessness, recklessness and restlessness (uddhacca).
Ignorance does not see the true nature of the object of clinging, it does
not see that it is only a conditioned reality which does not stay. Shamelessness
is not ashamed of akusala and recklessness does not see its danger. Restlessness
is instability due to akusala, it prevents the citta from applying itself
Lobha can be accompanied by indifferent feeling and then it is not as intense
as when it is accompanied by pleasant feeling. When we want to go somewhere
or want to do something, lobha is likely to arise, but it may not always
be accompanied by pleasant feeling, there may be indifferent feeling instead.
Lobha-mula-citta with indifferent feeling is likely to arise countless
times, but we are so ignorant, we do not notice it.
All degrees of lobha are dangerous, even the more subtle forms of lobha.
When we do evil deeds which harm others it is evident that lobha is dangerous.
But when lobha is only enjoyment of a pleasant sight or sound and we do
not harm other people, we find it harder to see the danger of lobha. Lobha,
be it gross or more subtle, makes us enslaved. When there is lobha we cling
to the object which is experienced at that moment and we take it for happiness.
The next moment the pleasant object is gone and then we are likely to have
aversion. The Buddha reminded people of the futility of sense-pleasures.
We read in the Dhammapada (verses 146-149) :
What is laughter,
what is joy, when the world is ever burning?
Lobha is extremely hard
to eradicate because it has been accumulated, also in past lives; it is
deeply rooted. Even when we have studied the Dhamma and we have heard about
the dangers of lobha we still want pleasant things for ourselves. We want
possessions and we are attached to people. At the moment of attachment
we do not realize that all the things we desire are susceptible to change,
that they cannot last.
Shrouded by darkness, do you not seek a light?
Behold this beautiful body, a mass of sores, a heaped-up (lump), diseased,
much thought of in which nothing lasts, nothing persists.
Thoroughly worn out is this body, a nest of diseases, perishable:
This putrid mass breaks up; truly life ends in death. .
We read in the Middle Length Sayings (I, no. 26), in the "Discourse
on the Ariyan Quest", that the Buddha spoke to the monks about the ariyan
quest and the unariyan quest. The unariyan quest is the seeking of an the
things which are impermanent. The Buddha spoke about things which ate "liable
to birth". Birth is followed by decay and death. Whatever is born, what
has arisen because of conditions, has to fall away, it cannot be true happiness.
And what monks,
is the unariyan quest? As to this, monks, someone, liable to birth because
of self seeks what is likewise liable to birth; being liable to ageing
because of self seeks what is likewise liable to ageing; being liable to
decay because of self.. being liable to dying because of self.. being liable
to sorrow because of self.. being liable to stain because of set seeks
what is likewise liable to stain. And what, monks, would you say is liable
to birth? Sons and wife, monks, are liable to birth, women-slaves and men-slaves
are liable to birth, goats and sheep are liable to birth, cocks and swine
are liable to birth, elephants, cows, horses and mares are liable to birth,
gold and silver are liable to birth. These attachments, monks, are liable
to birth; yet this (man), enslaved, infatuated, addicted, being liable
to birth because of self seeks what is likewise liable to birth...
It is then explained that
all the things which are mentioned as being liable to birth are also liable
to ageing, disease, dying, sorrow and stain. We are attached to family,
possessions, gold and silver, to everything we believe can give us pleasure.
We long for what is pleasant and we have aversion when we do not get what
we want, Our attachment is a source of endless frustrations. Further on
in the sutta we read that the person who sees the peril of all the things
which are impermanent seeks "the unborn, uttermost security from the bonds
nibbana". This is the ariyan quest. We may understand the disadvantage
of lobha, but lobha cannot be eradicated immediately. This sutta can remind
us to develop right understanding of realities, since this can eventually
lead to the eradication of lobha.
The Buddha taught people to be mindful of whatever reality appears. When
akusala dhamma appears it can be object of awareness and right understanding.
Some people may feel guilty when there is attachment to pleasant things
and they may be inclined to think that they should not be mindful of lobha.
If we have accumulations for arts such as painting or music should we give
these up in order to develop vipassana? That would not be the right practice.
We should know the realities of our daily life. One person has accumulations
for art, another is skilful in cooking or writing, we all have different
accumulations. A layman does not live the monk's life, he could not force
himself to live as a monk. We should develop understanding in our daily
life, because then we will see that whatever arises, does so because of
its own conditions.
The characteristic of lobha can be known only when it appears. When we
help someone else there are likely to be many moments of attachment in
between the moments of true generosity. Are we pleased to be in the company
of the person we help, are we attached to him? Are we pleased with "our
own" kusala and do we expect something in return for our kindness? Mindfulness
of realities is the only way to know the different moments of wholesomeness
and unwholesomeness more clearly. Mindfulness will prevent us from deluding
There may be attachment even to kusala, to calm or to mindfulness, sati.
We want to have a great deal of sati and we want it to last, but wanting
to have sati is not sati, it is clinging. We should not avoid being aware
of such clinging when it appears because only if we know it as it is can
it be eradicated.
There are time and again experiences through the different doorways. There
is seeing, hearing, the experience of tangible object or thinking. It seems
that all these experiences arise immediately one after the other, However,
they arise in different processes and in these processes there are "javana-cittas"
(1 See my Abhidhamma in Daily Life, Chapter 14. There are usually seven
cittas in a process performing the function of javana, "running through
the object) which are either kusala cittas or akusala cittas. For example,
shortly after hearing, which is vipakacitta (result of kamma) has arisen
and fallen away, there may be attachment to sound, and then there are lobha-mula-cittas,
performing the function of javana. Even during the sense-door process,
before the object is experienced through the mind-door, lobha can arise.
The javana-cittas which arise in the different processes of cittas, experiencing
objects through the six doors, are more often akusala cittas then kusala
cittas, but we are ignorant of them. After a sense-object such as sound
is experienced through the ear-door, it is experienced by cittas arising
in a mind-door process. The cittas arising in the mind-door process which
follows upon the sense-door process, in this case the ear-door process,
merely experience the sound, they do not think about it, and they do not
know what kind of sound it is, After that process there can be other mind-door
processes of cittas which think of the source of the sound, of the meaning
of it, of concepts. The thinking of concepts after the seeing, hearing
or the experiences through the other sense-doors, is usually done with
lobha, even if we do not feel particularly glad. When we, for example,
after hearing a sound, know that it is the sound of a bird, this is not
hearing but thinking, and this is usually done with lobha. We want to know
the meaning of what we hear. We want to know the meaning of all we have
experienced through the senses. When we pay attention to the shape and
form of things, after the seeing, there is thinking of concepts, which
is usually done with clinging. We like to notice all the familiar things
around us, we would not like to miss noticing them. Thus, we have many
moments of clinging arising in sense-door processes and mind-door processes;
we have many more moments of lobha than we ever thought and it is beneficial
to realize this. It can remind us to be aware of the different realities
which appear in order to know them as they are.
The Buddha reminded people of the many forms of lobha in order to help
them to develop right understanding. This is the aim of the many classifications
of realities we find in the scriptures. Tanha, for example, is another
word which denotes lobha. Tanha is usually translated as craving. Tanha
can be classified in the following way (1 Book of Analysis, Vibhanga,
Chapter 17, Analysis of Small Items, 916.):
or sensuous craving
Kama-tanha is craving
for the sense-objects which are experienced through the six doors as well
as craving for kamavacara cittas (cittas of the sense-sphere) and the accompanying
cetasikas. We cling not only to visible object or sound but also to seeing
and hearing, we want to see and hear, we want to go on experiencing objects
through the senses. Kama-tanha may be accompanied by wrong view or it maybe
unaccompanied by wrong view.
bhava-tanha or craving
vibhava-tanha or craving
Bhava-tanha is craving for becoming. This kind of clinging may be accompanied
by wrong view or not. The kind of bhava-tanha which is accompanied by wrong
view, ditthi, is "eternity view", the belief that realities last. Because
of eternity view one believes that there is a self who will continue to
There may also be clinging to rebirth without the wrong view of self who
continues to exist. Clinging to the result of rupajhana (fine-material
jhana), which is rebirth in a rupa-brahma plane, and ,clinging to the result
of arupa-jhana (immaterial jhana), which is rebirth in an arupa-brahma
plane, are forms of clinging which are included in bhava-tanha.
Vibhava-tanha, craving for non-becoming, is annihilation-belief which is
a kind of wrong view. This is the belief that there is a self who will
be annihilated after death. People who have this view do not see that so
long as there are conditions for the arising of nama and rupa, they will
arise again and again. Since they do not understand this they believe that
there is no rebirth.
There are different ways of classifying tanha. The Visuddhimagga
(XVII, 234-236) deals with hundred-and-eight kinds of craving. There
are six kinds of craving for the objects experienced through the six doors,
and each of these six kinds can be reckoned as threefold according to its
mode of occurrence as craving for sense-objects, craving for becoming and
craving for non-becoming. As regards craving for becoming, the eternity
view can arise in connection with what is experienced through each of the
six doors: there is the belief that these objects last. As regards the
craving for non-becoming, the annihilation view can arise in connection
with what is experienced through each of the six doors. In this way one
can count eighteen kinds of craving. Moreover, there can be craving for
"one's own" colour or for colour outside oneself and even so with regard
to the other objects, including) the objects of craving for becoming and
craving for non-becoming. In this way one can count thirty six kinds of
craving. If one takes into account craving in the past, craving in the
present and craving in the future, there ate one hundred-and-eight kinds
of craving. The different classifications of tanha remind us of the fact
that there are many kinds of clinging to different objects.
The sotapanna (the streamwinner, who has attained the first stage of enlightenment)
has eradicated clinging which is accompanied by wrong view, but the other
forms of clinging may still arise. The anagami (the non-returner, who has
attained the third stage of enlightenment) has eradicated all forms of
sensuous clinging, but he still clings to birth. He may cling to rupa-jhana
and its result and to arupa-jhana and its result. He has no "eternity view"
because he is without wrong view. The arahat has eradicated all kinds of
clinging, he does not cling to any kind of rebirth. For him there are no
longer conditions for rebirth.
When there is mindfulness of the present object more often, we will see
more clearly how deep-rooted our clinging is. We can prove in this way
that the Abhidhamma teaches about realities. We will learn that there is
clinging to all the objects which are experienced through the six doors.
So long as there is clinging there will be birth, old age, sickness and
death. Desire is the second noble Truth, the origin of dukkha We read in
the Middle Length Sayings (III, no. 141, the Analysis of the Truths)
that Sariputta said to the monks about the second noble Truth:
your reverences, is the ariyan truth of the arising of dukkha? Whatever
craving is connected with again-becoming, accompanied by delight and attachment,
finding delight in this and that, namely the craving for sense-pleasures,
the craving for becoming, the craving for annihilation--- this, your reverences,
is called the ariyan truth of the arising of dukkha.
Craving is one of the
links in the " Dependent Origination". Ignorance and craving are the roots
of the "wheel of becoming", the cycle of birth and death (Visuddhimagga
In the Thera-gatha (57, Kutiviharin 2) the kamma which produces
rebirth is symbolised by the building of a dwelling place, a hut. who still
has desire to "build" will be reborn. A Thera did his studies in an old
hut. He thought: "This old hut is now rotten; I ought to make another".
So he turned his mind to new action (kamma). A spirit who was seeking salvation
said to him:
This was an
ancient hut, you say? To build
When the Thera heard
these words he was agitated, developed insight and attained arahatship.
For him there were no more conditions for rebirth, since he was free from
Another hut, a new
one, is your wish?
O cast away the longing
for a hut!
New hut will bring
new pain, monk to you.
is lobha-mula-citta dangerous, even when it does not have the intensity
to motivate bad deeds?
objects what appears through the eyes, it is not a "thing". Can attachment
to visible object arise during the eye-door process?
iii Even the
sotapanna who has realized that phenomena are impermanent and non-self
has attachment to pleasant things. How is that possible?
iv Is bhava-tanha,
craving for becoming, always accompanied by wrong view?
has eradicated all forms of bhava-tanha?
vi Can the
sotapanna (streamwinner) have vibhava-tanha, clinging to non-existence?
vii Can the
anagami (non-returner) have clinging to seeing?
viii Can the anagami
have attachment to jhana?
ix Is it possible
to have attachment when we help someone else?
attachment to sati be a hindrance to the development of the eightfold Path?
to music is akusala. Monks are not allowed to apply themselves to music.
Should even laypeople give up music in order to develop vipassana?
xii Can attachment
be the object of mindfulness?